The Dirt Clog Fight

23 Jan

The Dirt Clog Fight
by L. Stewart Marsden

And so it was back in the day
pre cell phones, computers and color TVees,
when all my neighbor friends and me
gathered at a tree-cleared site
where mounds and mounds of rich-red clay
lay begging to be picked and hurled
at each other, dodging tween wood-framed walls
that would one day become a tall and stately house
perched at the end of Colonial Drive.

Good, clean, dirty fun
where dirt clogs rained on everyone
from afternoon to edge of night
till mothers’ calls broke up the fight
and, one by one, each soldier’s name
was called home — to end the game —
“Bill-eeee!”
“Tom-eeee!!!!!!”
“John-eee!!!”
And, finally,
me.

As colors faded to sepia tones
I made my very slow way home
with thoughts of all of the fun I’d had
wondering was it so much fun
because we’d been so desperately bad?

No way would I ever confess
about the dirt clog fight and mess
my friends and I had left behind —
remnants of that mighty fine
dirt clog fight that we had had —
all because we were so bad
at the new house at the end of the street.

Doing so would leave Mom no choice
but to break a branch from the nearest bush
and thrash my legs while with shril-led voice
she lectured me.

And so, I lied.
And cried that I’d been caught
by thieves who had lashed me to a tree —
the ivyed oak in the Lipscomb’s yard —
and all the while I worked real hard
to loose myself from those ropes,
and at my mom’s call rose a hope that gave me strength
to break and flee back home into her loving arms.

That did the trick — it stopped the switch —
Mom turned from me and hid her face
and ordered me up to my room
where she later carried in a tray of sandwiches and soup.

Now, a thousand years ago —
that dirt clog fight still resonates so,
that when my children’s children ask
what did I do when at their age
without cellphones and digital stuff,
I say, “Red clay was quite enough
to carry me throughout the day.”

“Ooh. Life was rough when you were young.”

“Perhaps, but I’ll tell you this:
I’d trade all the gadgets that I own
to walk that street of my old home
and gather with those neighbor friends
and heft red clay clogs once again
until our mothers call all our names
when the day turns toward the night
to finally end our dirt clog fight.”

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